Trip to the Well

(Barry Vineham)

Forty years ago there were no snow ploughs to clear the roads after a winter snow storm. At times the snow drifts would be so high that people could touch the phone wires. If you didn't own a horse and sled, you would have to go to the grocery store or to the well on foot.

That could get dangerous because the drifts would be high in some places and not so high in others. If someone on a horse and sled was coming around the bend and you were on foot, then you'd better get out of the way in a hurry. To help with this problem, the horses used to have a bell around their necks.

Walking to the well to get water for drinking, housework and bathing was a major task. One particular well was at the bottom of a large hill. After many trips by people and horses, the hard snowy path turned into a hill of glare ice. To get back over the hill with the buckets of drinking water, some people would tie squat-up milk cans on their boots to give them a little traction.

Sometimes it would take them over two hours to get enough water for drinking and bathing. The five gallon galvanized buckets felt heavier and heavier with each trip that was made to the well. This heavy chore was done by men and women, but mostly by women because the men were away in the woods.


  1. Why did the horses wear bells around their necks?
  2. Why did people tie squat-up milk cans to their boots?
  3. Can you remember bringing drinking water in buckets?

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